The four Yachting New Zealand regional development managers highlight some key events from their respective areas over the past fortnight, including a successful coaching clinic hosted by three-time Olympian Jenny Armstrong and races up and down the country.
Yachting NZ Starling clinic a hit
More than two dozen promising sailors received a dose of Olympic inspiration before the start of the 2023 Port Marlborough Starling Championships at Queen Charlotte Yacht Club at the weekend, courtesy of Yachting New Zealand's women's sailing manager and ILCA 6 programme manager, Jenny Armstrong.
The three-time Olympian, who won gold for Australia in the women’s 470 at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, hosted a free clinic for 28 young Starling enthusiasts on the eve of one of the country's biggest junior events.
On-water tactics were a particular focus of the clinic and once the wind picked up after lunchtime, Armstrong shared some useful techniques for dealing with the bigger breeze.
Sailors and their parents then had a pathway presentation - covering everything from boat classes to career opportunities - with the group particularly interested in Armstrong's journey from a mid-fleet P-class sailor to one of the best in the world.
“The Starling class is one of New Zealand sailing’s most important feeder classes and is a natural next step for young sailors hoping to transition to the Aon national youth programme,” Armstrong said.
"Clinics like these are an important part of developing sailors regionally, and providing opportunities for the local coaches and sailors to upskill."
Armstrong also spent the first day of the three-day regatta on the water with a few South Island coaches, providing tips and suggestions to improve their coaching and sailor interactions.
The regatta, which doubled as the 2023 Interislander Optimist Challenge, did not disappoint - with Charteris Bay Yacht Club's Charlotte Palmer taking out the title with the last race in the Starling fleet, winning four of nine races for a total of 16 points.
Jack Olson was second, one point behind Palmer, followed by Chloe Turner.
Nathan Soper finished atop the 56-boat Optimist open fleet, with Kester Holmes (green), Hugo Brasell (white) and Louis Barry (rainbow) all winning their respective fleets.
Another noticeable feature of the event was the floating toilets - a first among New Zealand clubs, according to the organisers.
The brightly coloured portaloos were stationed on a platform anchored out below the course that was large enough not to be affected by waves.
Full results from the 2023 Port Marlborough Starling Championship and the Interislander Optimist Challenge here.
Jackson does the double at Donald Hay
Disrupted by Covid-19 last year, the iconic Donald Hay Regatta was back in its regular timeslot on Lake Wakatipu last weekend and the Queenstown weather did not disappoint.
The 2023 regatta, the 43rd edition of the event, had 10 trailer and sports boats racing from the Wakatipu Yacht Club to the Kingston wharf at the far end of the lake on Saturday (February 18), for an overnight stay and some refreshments.
Hamish Jackson aboard Jade 11 claimed the Les Rogerson Memorial Club to Pub Shield by winning the race.
Mike McAlister (Reprieve) collected line honours in the Donald Hay Classic with a stiff nor'wester gusting up to 40kn challenging the fleet on the return journey, while Jackson won on handicap.
Radford brothers have a good old time in Pigeon Bay
Wayne and Grant Radford proved they are worth their salt in more ways than one at the recent Old Salts Regatta hosted by Pigeon Bay Boating Club.
The brothers beat 19 other boats in the 24th sailing of the event to pick up both the Division A and the ultimate overall title in their Noelex 22 named Half & Half.
Entry for the overall Old Salts Trophy requires the helm and crew to both be over 50.
The trophy was first sailed for in the 1998/99 season with the theme for this year's event "Love Boat" and an array of excellent prizes up for grabs.
Great Dane! Christchurch yacht clubs embrace SailGP teams
SailGP fever is sweeping Christchurch with some local yacht clubs getting an international makeover of sorts – three weeks before the New Zealand debut of the popular event.
A freak storm cut short the Sydney regatta over the weekend, with several teams suffering damage to their wingsails as they were heading back to base on Saturday.
Event organisers are confident the New Zealand leg - scheduled for 18-19 March in Lyttelton Harbour - will go ahead, and clubs in the region are getting right behind their adopted international teams.
Members of Mount Pleasant Yacht Club have decked out the club building with Danish flags and have embraced the Viking theme in anticipation of the Denmark team's arrival.
Young Millar shines at O'pen Skiff nationals
Gisborne’s only O'pen Skiff sailor, Lucy Millar, was crowned as the leading female at the 2023 national championships, hosted by the Bay of Islands Yacht Club.
Millar finished fourth overall in the gold fleet, claiming seven top 10 finishes in eight races with a best placing of second.
She was also second in the under-17 open fleet.
First place went to Ewan Brazle, followed by Orlando Botha and Carl Marshall.
The second-placed female was Japanese entrant Yuki Matsuo, representing Chotto Beach Yacht Club - 18 points behind Millar.
Valentina Gladiadis was the third-placed female.
A highlight of the race was the “Bridge of Doom” where all competitors tried to pass under a large inflated “goal-post” lower than their rigs... with some comical consequences.
Millar will next attempt to defend her Wellington O'pen Skiff title in March, before competing in the Starling class nationals at Manly Sailing Club around Easter.
Sailors flock to Dr Dave's course
Who better to teach advanced first aid for sailors than Dr Dave Austin, director of intensive care services for Central Queensland Health and an experienced yachtsman with more than 40,000 miles under his sea boots?
Austen, or Dr Dave as he is known, presented his renowned offshore medical course to 35 participants at Bucklands Beach Yacht Club last week - the seventh time he has done so.
The course was attended by everyone from yacht cruisers wanting to upskill before heading to the islands, to top offshore sailors requiring the qualification to compete in the upcoming Round North Island Race.
The course is recognised by both Yachting New Zealand for category 1 and World Sailing for offshore races and is valid for five years.
As well as the basic standards of first aid, the course also teaches participants how to manage medical issues at sea, from sea sickness and burns to major trauma and cardiac arrest.
The course is very hands-on with participants using chicken carcases to practice stapling and suturing wounds and give intramuscular injections.
Big fleet expected at Tauranga Regatta
The fleet for the 2023 Tauranga Regatta will be smaller than the record numbers seen last year - but that won't mean less excitement.
Race organiser and 1994 world champion in the (then) Laser class, Nik Burfoot, is expecting just under 100 boats, about 50 fewer than in 2022, at the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club this weekend.
"Last year was a record number with 10 classes participating, including the disability Hansa class," Burfoot said.
"We're expecting closer to 100 this time without the 40 boats entered as part of the Starling Traveller series in 2022."
There was also the possibility of the Cherub class returning.
What is certain, Burfoot says, is plenty of challenging racing, as well as Tauranga's famous tide to complicate things for sailors, and a host of activities for spectators.
"Stalwart race officers Bill Whitiskie and Warren Belk will be running the show, ably assisted by Richard Burling who will be positioned in his favourite spot of start and finish pin end," Burfoot said.
"If you are over, Richard will get you."
Kensingtons tame tough conditions
Strong winds and rough seas made for some great racing at the 2023 Junior Sail Auckland, held on February 11-12 at Kohimarama Yacht Club.
The race committee were kept busy as six classes battled it out over three races with the Kensington brothers - Sean and Rowan - dominating in the 29er class with a clean sweep.
Nelson Meacham from Wakatere Boating Club also revelled in the wild conditions to take the win in the Optimist open fleet.
Full results here.
Harken success for Hyde and Co
Josh Hyde, Jack Manning, Zach Fong, Cody Coughlan and Ryder Ellis claimed the 2023 Harken Youth International Match Racing Cup after four days in light and challenging conditions on Auckland's Waitematā.
Hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, racing was close throughout the regatta with different weather patterns due to the recent cyclone.
Hyde has ambitions to join the RNZYS performance programme and looks to apply to some international regattas later this year.
In the meantime, the crew heads back to university and work ahead of the NZ Youth Match Racing Nationals in Wellington.
Gulf Classic to help battered Mercury Bay
This year's Gulf Classic Endurance Race will see a number of changes - including being run as a fundraiser for the storm-battered Mercury Bay Boating Club.
The race, now in its 41st year, will be held on the weekend of March 11 out of the Maraetai Beach Boating Club.
The Gulf Classic was originally sailed by trailer yachts out of the squadron base at Kawakawa Bay and designed to be an endurance race for a single division, sailed over a 100nm course in the inner-gulf sailing area.
Over the years, changes to the event have been made to cater to keelboats and less experienced trailer yacht skippers.
It now caters for four divisions, sailed over three different course lengths.
This year's race will consist of a social gathering of skippers and crew at the Maraetai club on Friday night (March 10), with the race starting from 10am the following day.
Boats are expected to finish through to the early hours of Sunday morning.
For more information, click here.
New life members for Hartley 16s
The Hartley 16 class completed their 55th Mount Gay Nationals, hosted by the Napier Sailing Club, on the weekend of February 10 - just in time to avoid Cyclone Gabrielle.
Craig Canute and Caleb Birrell took out the win aboard Hartley Moving, followed by Alan Holdt and Eric Kemsley (Tight Fit) and Wayne Holdt and Duncan Dunning (Panache).
The ranking handicap went to Chris Wischnowsky and Amelia Otto on Simply Red, with the family trophy won by Rob and Noah Hengst.
Three new life members of the class - Alan Dawson, Thijs Calkoen and Paul Dunford - were also awarded their badges at the regatta by another life member Hans Hengst.
Muritai Yacht Club geared for big regatta
The Muritai Yacht Club hosted another successful Burnsco junior regatta recently with a great turnout of 66 boats from the Wellington dinghy clubs.
While it was a light start to the day, the wind finally came in for the three-race series.
The club will now look forward to hosting the major Wellington Centreboard Regatta on March 25-26.
Finn Nationals postponed
The annual New Zealand Finn week became a casualty of this week's Interislander and Bluebridge cancellations with half the fleet unable to cross the Cook Strait to the venue at Plimmerton Boating Club.
This forced the PBC and New Zealand Finn Association to reschedule the national Finn championships to April14-16 at the same venue.
The new date for the North Island Championships, also scheduled for the Finn week, will be announced at a later date.